Deer Fencing -- New and beginning farmers will have an opportunity to participate in the New Jersey Department of Agriculture 2007 Deer Fencing program, a cost-share program that provides fencing material and up to 30 percent of the line posts to qualified farmers. The program, run cooperatively by the Department and Rutgers Cooperative Extension, has expanded eligibility to new and emerging operations that could benefit from the exclusionary fencing. The new/beginning farmer category is only eligible to farms established from 2000 through the present day which meet an economic threshold. This is the third year of the Department’s deer fencing program. In the first two years, fence, accompanying wire and posts were distributed to 150 farmers throughout the state. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/deer.html.
Prepared Foods at Farmers Markets -- The Departments of Agriculture and Health & Senior Services sent community farmers market managers in the state a document giving them guidance on what products other than fresh, uncut fruits and vegetables can be sold, and under what conditions, in order to comply with Chapter 24 of the state Health Code. The document, which details in plain language how such products can comply with the Code, is posted on the Department’s website at www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/pdf/farmmarketguidelines.pdf. The document is the first step in a comprehensive approach by the two Departments to ensure that such products as pies, jams, meats and cheeses can be prepared and sold at farmers markets while still complying with the health code.
C-1 Streams – A letter was sent to farmers on September 24 to clarify some confusion about Department of Environmental Protection rules designed to protect our state’s waterways by limiting certain development activities near some streams. The letter clarifies that under the Stormwater Management Rules, existing agricultural uses within the 300-foot stream buffer are exempt and can continue and existing structures, both agricultural and non-ag, within that buffer can remain. The letter also assures farmers that under proposed Flood Hazard Area Control Rules that they will be able to continue existing farm activities near streams.
Jets Eat Right, Move More Program – For the second year, the New York Jets football team is partnering with the Department of Agriculture to encourage students in New Jersey schools to eat the healthy food being offered in their cafeterias. This year, six schools will be selected based on their creative menus and the strides they have made in wellness education and programs. One school will be selected at random to be honored at a December Jets home game and the other five will receive player visits. The winners will be announced in November.
Agricultural Education Pilot Program – New Jersey Departments of Agriculture and Education are partnering in a national project, Curriculum of Agricultural Sciences Education (CASE), making New Jersey one of 12 pilot states in the project. Four New Jersey agriculture/horticultural instructors and a business and industry representative will join other pilot state teams in Indianapolis September 27-30 to begin writing the national curriculum targeted for college track agriculture students. The project is meant to facilitate efforts to offer students a rigorous agricultural science curriculum and support rigorous professional development for teachers. Once formulated, New Jersey teachers and schools will have early access to this advanced program for being a pilot state. Training students for careers in the science and technology of agriculture helps implement the Department’s agriculture development initiative, supported at the 2007 State Agricultural Convention.
Asian Longhorned Beetle – Division of Plant Industry staff is preparing for a tree climbing survey in Jersey City, where if no additional signs of Asian longhorned beetle are found, the infestation in that area, first discovered in 2002, will be declared officially eradicated. Meanwhile, tree climbing and bucket truck surveys in Clark and Carteret in the Middlesex/Union County infestation zone. Barry Emens, the federal director of the ALB Eradication Program in New Jersey, retired from USDA APHIS PPQ on August 31. Taking over that position will be Tom Denholm, the Division of Plant Industry’s ALB program supervisor. Denholm starts his new position on October 1.
Minimizing Farmer/Neighbor Conflicts -- The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) is seeking successful tips and strategies farmers have used to maintain good relationships with their neighbors and towns, for a publication it is developing to help farmers minimize conflicts. The SADC is compiling advice from farmers that will be published in a pamphlet and discussed by farmers at farmer-panel workshops at various 2008 winter agricultural conferences. All farmer contributions will be kept anonymous. The project team expects to conduct short interviews with as many as 45 farmers by the end of October. Other members of the agricultural community are encouraged to share their advice, tips and strategies through a special website that has been established for the project at http://nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/farmersadvice.htm. Farmers can complete a short survey and anonymously submit their comments directly to the project team through this site through November 1.
Organic Certification Grant -- New Jersey was among 15 states named to share $1 million in USDA grant money to defray the costs of annual organic certifications, money that is particularly important to smaller farms, such as New Jersey’s, to meet the voluntary uniform standards set by the National Organic Program in order for the farms’ products to be labeled “100-percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients.” The Department recently became an official organic certifier for organic farms. The Agricultural Management Assistance Program will allocate funds to the states based on the proportion of organic producers in each state. The states will in turn reimburse each eligible producer for up to 75 percent of its organic certification costs, not to exceed $500 each.
Marketing Award -- The Department has received the Produce News Marketing Excellence Award for its efforts in September and October 2006 to restore consumer confidence in New Jersey-grown spinach after E. coli outbreaks traced to West Coast spinach sparked an FDA call for people to stop eating fresh, bagged spinach and salad containing spinach. The FDA warning came just as New Jersey spinach growers were beginning their fall harvest, and until the FDA clarified its warning, East Coast growers were impacted just as much as the West Coast farms to which the outbreaks were traced. The Department launched a multi-media campaign – both through regular news sources and advertising in newspapers and on radio – to assure consumers that New Jersey spinach was never suspected as a source of the contamination and was safe to eat. This helped growers sell their New Jersey-grown spinach. Produce News is a national publication covering all facets of the produce industry.
New Jersey FFA Student Wins Eastern States Competition – Adam Kimble of Warren Hills FFA, New Jersey’s 2007 Star State Placement Award winner, was named Star at Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts on September 15. He competed with others from at least 15 eastern states. He works on a dairy farm.